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Week 7: Birth Rituals

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi Everyone,

Oh forgive me for this late posting. I do hope you are writing, even if it's just a little every day. Get those 300 words down whatever way you can. You deserve to be writing. Find the time.

I began observing the amazing Penny Simkin this past week. I'm in training to become a childbirth educator and Penny teaches in Seattle, about an hour from my house. It means leaving the kids at 5:30 and praying the baby will be okay without me (she has been, thankfully). The course is eight weeks long and she teaches it out of her house. I don't know if Seattle grows prettier pregnant women than your average town, but every woman who walks through her door personifies the essence of pregnant beauty.

As I sat and watched, not so far removed from that time in my life (my youngest is six months), I ached with a fullness I had never experienced. Maybe it was because I wasn't there to talk or to contribute that I longed to share in their conversations. I had to physically bite my tongue about the very thing I am most passionate about: birth. It was a good experience for me. Sometimes it's good to just watch.

Among the many wonderful things Penny had to say about birth, she discussed the idea that women who are able stay on top of their contractions in labor tend to have three things in common: relaxation, rhythm and ritual.

Of those three, I was most struck by the idea of ritual in labor. She wasn't referring to candles or mantras, but of the repetition of sound and movement that women naturally develop in the land of labor. Low moans, rocking, rhythmic breathing -- all were useful and essential coping techniques. It is no stretch for me to relate this to my labors, but it got me thinking: ritual can and should exist in all birth experiences. I imagine a woman adopting might have a specific ritual of anticipation before seeing her child for the first time, or the woman experiencing a Cesarean delivery might rely on ritual to calm herself while being prepped.

What was your birth ritual? Get specific. Focus on a minute in time when you relied on your ritual. We want to feel it and experience it with you.

There's more. We live and breath by ritual in our lives: making coffee, lifting your child up from the bed, the way you prepare to nurse, changing a diaper, preparing tea, saying goodbye to a partner, checking your bank balance. What rituals define your day? When you are fifty, what will you remember about the rituals in your life today?

It's the things I often forget that I want to hold most sacred. I hope I always remember what it is like to pick up my child, lift her in the air over my head and see her smile. Then, on her plump left cheek, I drink in her smell as I kiss her soft, pink skin. Sometimes, if I've just nursed, traces of my milk will linger on her cheek. Here is the sweet reminder that having a child is the greatest act of service one person can provide another. My milk, my sweet service, my growing child, I sigh with smile and go on with my day.

Talk to us about your favorite and your least favorite daily rituals.

Have a good week. We'll also start posting our stories next week. Keep writing!

post #2 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hips folded, belly resting on the back of the couch, my body rocks, rocks, rocks in time to my surges. My head is too heavy for my neck, so I let it hang to my chest. Mmmmmm becomes ohhhh becomes gentle breath without sound. The room waits. I hear quiet breathing from my husband and gentle echos from my midwife. My smile tells them the surge has passed, and my husband lifts water to my lips. I drink it in and quietly utter my thanks before the next round begins.
post #3 of 4
Hi there Jesse and group. I do like this idea of writing about daily rituals and birth rituals...I just haven't had enough time lately with Amaya having a cold, spring cleaning and taking advantage of all this great sunny weather we've been having. So, I thought I'd say a quick hi, thanks for the assignment and I hope to have time to write soon.
post #4 of 4
No words are spoken, we both just know what's going to happen. I think my face gives the first signal, contorting a little bit like I just licked a lemon, then relaxing, mouth open wide as I breathe out, a closed off "aaaaahhhh." I brace myself against the wall, whichever wall is closest to me, feet spread apart. Bryan drops whatever else he's doing at the moment and assumes his position behind me. He places his thumbs on either side of my spine in the small of my back, and leans in with all of his weight and strength. I am instantly relieved, and my breathing gets deeper and lower, until the contraction is over. A smile, thanks babe, we're doing this!
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